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FIRSTGROUP PLC - Statement re: Rail Franchises.

5 August 2011


FirstGroup plc, the leading transport operator in the UK and North America, welcomed today's announcement on rail refranchising by the Department for Transport (DfT).

The First TransPennine Express franchise will be extended for over three years to 1 April 2015, which will allow greater flexibility in the refranchising of the future TransPennine Express and Northern franchises.

The Thameslink/Great Northern franchise, operated by First Capital Connect, will be refranchised in 2012/13 with a replacement franchise to commence from 15 September 2013. This will help to facilitate the continued project delivery of the Thameslink Programme, in particular the introduction of new rolling stock, which will be completed after the expiry date of the existing franchise.

Commenting, Tim O'Toole, Group Chief Executive, said:

"We are delighted that the DfT has taken the decision to extend the First TransPennine Express franchise to 1 April 2015. Since we started operating the franchise in 2004 we have delivered a number of improvements including the introduction of a [pounds]260m new train fleet and passenger numbers have grown from 13m to 24m per annum. We will continue to work closely with the DfT and our stakeholders in the region to develop plans for the future of rail in the north of England and to further develop the Anglo-Scottish services.

"At First Capital Connect we have worked closely with the DfT and Network Rail to deliver the initial phase of the Thameslink Programme successfully. This is a major investment that is already bringing benefits to passengers and will transform a key part of London's transport network. Our unrivalled knowledge and experience of managing this key project gives us a strong foundation to continue to help deliver this programme in the future franchise."

Contacts FirstGroup:

Jeff Carr, Group Finance Director

Rachael Borthwick, Group Corporate Communications Director

Tel: + 44 (0) 207 291 0508 / +44 (0) 7771 945432

Notes to editors:

1. FirstGroup is the UK's largest rail operator carrying over 290 million

passengers a year.

2. The Group's passenger rail franchises consist of First Capital Connect,

First Great Western, First ScotRail and First TransPennine Express and one

open access operator First Hull Trains.

3. The Group has pre-qualified for the InterCity West Coast franchise.

4. The TransPennine Express franchise is operated by a joint venture between

FirstGroup and Keolis.
 5. The TransPennine Express franchise officially commenced on 1
February 2004. 

The initial franchise was awarded for eight years with a five year extension period.

6. The First TransPennine Express franchise has been extended to 1 April 2015,

with an option for the DfT to roll back to terminate the franchise up to 12

months earlier on 1 April 2014.

7. The Thameslink/GN franchise, which combined the current Thameslink and
 Great Northern franchises, officially commenced on 1 April 2006
as First
 Capital Connect. In March 2010 the franchise was automatically
 for two years as service performance targets were met. Subject to
the DfT's
 agreement, the franchise could then continue for up to three further
 i.e. to March 2015. This flexibility was necessary to facilitate
works on
 the Thameslink Programme.

8. The Thameslink Programme will make travelling across London and the south

east easier and quicker. It will reduce crowding on some of the busiest

sections of London's transport network and introduce a new generation of

electric commuter trains, carrying up to 1750 passengers.

9. The first stage of the Thameslink Programme is already under construction.
 Building work is already well underway at Farringdon and
 stations, and platform extension work has been completed at many
 including Luton Airport Parkway and St Albans. This first stage will
 some longer 12 carriage trains to operate on the Bedford to Brighton
 from December 2011.

10. The second stage involves the reconstruction of London Bridge station and
 its approaches and a new connection to the East Coast Main Line
just to the
 north of St Pancras. This stage will deliver 24 trains per hour in
 directions through the central London core section, as well as
longer 12
 carriage operation to a range of destinations to the north and south
 London from December 2018.

11. The new trains required for the Programme will require around 1,200 new


12. The capital cost for the new infrastructure and the new rolling stock is

estimated to cost around [pounds]6 billion.
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Publication:PR Newswire UK Disclose
Date:Aug 5, 2011
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